This is the first page in the pink section of my Rainbow Art Journal. The scrappy background was the result of me scraping leftover paint from other projects onto that page. I then created the bunny silhouette, inspired by the zombie bunnies I like to draw, and then added the (anatomically inaccurate) skeleton using a Posca paint pen. The execution is not my best work but I like Skelebun as a character so I think I may have a crack at drawing him in ink and watercolour.
I actually completed this illustration during a meet up with my local art journaling group. Once a month, we used to gather in a local coffee shop and work on our own art projects. That all came to an end when Covid sent us into lockdown in March 2020 and it has not been resurrected. The fact that this page was completed pre-pandemic is a reminder of just how long I have been working on this project. Man, I really need to get this journal finished.
These skeleton women do insist on appearing in my art journals but I decided to keep this one much simpler. I also decided to work in a colour palette that I thought might be really clashing and visually discordant. Chartreuse is a colour I actually quite like in isolation but which I find often looks horrid juxtaposed against other colours so I decided on chartreuse and violet. It struck me that the colours were reminiscent of the colours of a bruise at different stages of healing. Not something a skeleton really needs to think about.
Having just committed to getting back into the swing of making regular time for art and sharpening my skills again, I quickly lapsed because of a nigh impossible schedule. I literally had to make a spreadsheet titled “Schedule Hell” in order to navigate all of the many schedule clash problems I had to resolve. Essentially I need to be able to clone myself or develop teleportation. Since I suck at STEM, I just get to be burned out from the stress of having to be in multiple places at once.
Anyway, this is the page I managed to complete in my Rainbow Art Journal because the blue background was ready and waiting for me. This background is the result of painting leftover acrylic from other projects onto the page in a haphazard way. Since I enjoy drawing inaccurate skeletons, I decided to attempt a whale. The proportions are actually wackier than even I intended but that’s OK.
I actually completed this page in my Rainbow Art Journal ages ago. I started drafting this blog post, must have been interrupted, saved it to drafts, and then my brain did a combination of forgetting about it and misremembering by thinking I had actually published the post. My mixed media art journals have been very neglected lately while I have been focused on my Star Wars illustration challenge so finding this blog post is a useful reminder to me to crack open the supplies and get experimenting again.
I wanted to experiment with green and pink but I honestly have no idea what was in my head when I sketched out the subject matter. I guess I do have female figures with herma type torsos and skeletal elements in my “go to” list of art motifs so it is not completely out of left field. The exposed rib cage then made me think of the exposed veins of skeletal leaves and so I had my idea for the whole composition. I took this photo when the light was dull and flat which is making the pink photograph as being a little too purple but in reality it is a sort of bubblegum pink.
If my calculations are correct, then this is the 50th illustration in my Rainbow Art Journal. If my assessment is correct, it is going to take me several years to actually complete every single page in this particular art journal and complete this rainbow themed project. I need to pick up the pace. This page was super quick and easy to work on because all of that background layering of green paint had accumulated as side projects over time. When I have some leftover paint (or scraps of paper or whatever) I have just been lobbing them on a page in this art journal and that way some pages just fill up over time. Therefore, when I was in a coffee shop with my local art journaling group, this page was ready and waiting for me to add to it. Maybe it’s the time of year – Rudolph and all that – but I almost immediately thought about drawing a deer skeleton. Part of my inspiration certainly came from the Ouroboros I drew a couple of years ago. That illustration was more effective, perhaps because it could pass as more anatomically correct. This deer skeleton is, however, weirdly proportioned and overall looks pretty dorky and derpy. But that’s OK. Whimsically weird has its charms too.
I had to redeem myself and my art journal after the hideous beetle page so I returned to what for me is apparently a favourite subject – skeleton women. I have no idea what in my psyche or imagination keeps compelling me to illustrate these skeletal ladies. I just go with it. This one was an experiment with a colour palette of orange, rusty red, and teal. I like the combination and can see me using it again. While the orange and red suggest rust, the teal suggests verdigris so they all work together quite well thematically as well as in terms of colour.
I probably won’t return to either of my art journals for the rest of this month because I am going to be consumed with other art projects. I am still filling my Brooklyn Art Library sketchbook with zombies and I am also participating in Drawlloween. I have joined in with Inktober the past couple of years but this year I decided to push myself out of the habit of just doing ink linework illustrations by joining in with Drawlloween. I am working bigger than in previous years and I am adding colour. That’s the plan anyway. You can follow the results of both of these projects on my other blog, Pict Ink, or on Instagram.
I hate to waste paint so, if I find I have some paint left over from a project, I smear it into a page in my art journal where it stays as a potential first layer for some future creating. One such page of leftovers was the basis for this week’s art journal page. It was created in response to the Art Journal Adventure prompt for this week: the letter O. I like vague prompts because they give me the nudge to create while giving me the scope to really do whatever I want. You may have noticed that I like to illustrate skeletons. They are never anatomically correct and I cannot really put my finger on why I am so drawn to them as a subject but I just go with it. Do what you enjoy, right? I, therefore, ended up illustrating the skeleton of an ouroboros. The O had made me think of circles and hoops and infinity and that made me think of ouroboros, which handily begins with the letter O, and it instantly became a skeleton in my mind’s eye. An ouroboros – just in case you didn’t know – is a serpent consuming its own tale, an image found in many mythologies, symbolising eternity through the endless cycle of life and death.
There were two lessons last week for Life Book, one taken by Whitney Freya and one by Samie Harding. There was absolutely no way I was going to find time to tackle two different lessons. I thought I would choose to work on the one that appealed most to me but, in actual fact, neither really chimed with me enough to stand out. One was abstract and one was very “art therapy” in its approach and neither of those things really inspires my creativity. I almost decided not to work on Life Book for the second week in a row but then I had an idea: I could combine the lessons. I could use some of the approaches from the abstract lesson to create a background and could use the concept of a totem animal from the other lesson as a jumping off point for the subject matter. Of course, being me, I had to put my own twist on things and – as such – I turned my bear into a silhouette contain a skeleton. You wouldn’t know it to look at it, but I did have a quick google to have a photo reference for the bear’s skull. I actually had a lot of fun creating this painting so I am glad I found the mojo and the time to actually work on Life Book after all.
This week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt was to use a hand on the page. Well pants! I used my hand shapes a few weeks ago in a different journal page. My challenge, therefore, was to come up with a quick, easy, simple idea that neither duplicated or echoed the page I had created before – or any other journal pages where I had used my hand as inspiration. Since the previous page had started with my hand shape and built up from there – using masses of colourful dots – I had the idea of doing the reverse and starting with the hand silhouette and peeling away a layer. Skeleton hand! I have a bit of a thing for (not anatomically correct) skeleton drawings at the moment so I was enthused by the idea.
I had to create a background for my page. Wanting a bit of a macabre feel for the skeleton hand, I opted for a red and green colour scheme, connotations of flesh, blood, putrefaction, and decay. Having so recently had such a sucky result from using my gelli plate, I decided to give it another whirl and see if I could get a better result. This time I used my miniature gelli-plate in the hopes it would provide me with a bit more control over the placement, slow me down a bit, and make me think. I used it to build up a patchwork of red and green rectangles. The red and green looked a bit bogging together but that was, after all, part of the point and the feel I was aiming for.
When it came to the hand, I drew around my own hand and filled it in with black acrylic paint. I used Dylusions paint as I find that black gives a really rich black, smooth, velvety finish which is ideal for drawing on top of. Once that was dry, it was just a case of using a white paint pen to draw in the bones. I had a quick glance at a photo of a skeletal hand but clearly did not make my drawing anatomically correct.
Knowing me as you do, you may not be surprised to see the direction I took this week’s Art Journal Adventure prompt. The prompt was “Opening” which could be used in either a literal or metaphorical way or both. I immediately visualised a rib cage opening to reveal a heart.
I used Dylusions black marble paint to coat my page because it creates a really rich black with a lovely smooth finish which is perfect for drawing on with paint pens. The approach I took was the exact same as the one I used to create the Lady Death page in my other current art journal but this time I kept it the doodles much simpler because I wanted to get the whole thing done and dusted within one week’s rations of art time. I think it goes without saying that I did not use any references when illustrating the skeleton. Anatomical accuracy was not remotely going to happen. The rib cage I drew – however short of a few ribs – opens like window shutters to reveal the interior of the body. I knew I wanted to include the heart as a reference to the idea of opening up to someone, thus connecting the literal and metaphorical possibilities of the prompt. Having drawn the heart into the centre of the opening, however, I decided that there was too much empty space. I, therefore, added a pair of lungs. I repeated the pink and red colours elsewhere in the drawing of the skeleton to make the interior and exterior visually coherent.
I had a lot of fun creating this journal page and hope you find it fun to look at.